Germany shivers in anticipation. HE is in Berlin! Crowds of people screaming and welcoming the boy wonder, youngsters collapse as he is passing by. The city lies at his feet.
No, this is not about Ed Sheeran. It is about the state visit of the new Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to Germany. And no, this is not what really happened. It was quite boring and formal, statesman and -woman like Sebastian Kurz and Angela Merkel are. Unless you read Die Neue Kronenzeitung (The New Crown-newspaper), than you would believe that Germany is dropping everything to follow an Austrian leader…again. The daily titled “Kurz-Festival in Berlin”, “What Merkel can learn from Kurz” and afterwards “How Kurz Showed the Germans”.
The Krone loves the new chancellor like only a newspaper can love. On average, you can find his likeness 15 times in the paper. Every single day. Although the name of the paper has nothing to do with monarchy, its original price was one crown, the monetary of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, its coverage of chancellor Kurz first month in office feels more like reporting from the emperors court or a North Korean news channel.
Not only in glorification does the Krone show North Korean levels, but also in influence. That might be a little bit overstated, but the newspaper has still a 42% range according to the Reuters Digital News Report. Compared to the size of the population, the Krone is the most-read newspaper in western democracies. The favour of the Krone is long said to be the key for successfully governing Austria. The crown gives and the crown takes.
There is nothing particular bad in a newspaper that has more to write about politicians than their mistakes and failures. Kurz won the election and has yet to proof himself and his government. A newspaper can argue to give the new government some faith in advance, if it hadn’t done everything in its power to discredit the old one. Just as passionate as the Krone tried to put its readers at odds with the former chancellor Christian Kern, it now lulls them into an inattentive, nationalist dream, giving the new government a free hand. A government that also includes the far-right party FPÖ and a vice-chancellor who is known to be a Neo-Nazi in his youth.
But the crown lies heavy. And all its praise will not cover the effects of the policies the new government is planing to put through. As the paper has shown before, it can change its line with ease and drop their crown prince the moment his glamour begins do dim. Regardless of one is in favour of the new government or not, this power of a single newspaper is no good for a democracy. Kurz campaigned with the slogan “It is time”, without specifying, what it is time for. Maybe, on the 100th anniversary of the end of the Monarchy, it is also time to end the reign of the Krone.